29 January 2015

Late to The Party: My Take on The 'If I Stay' Book and Movie

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If I Stay was one of the books that kept me company when I had way too much free time in between my college classes. I wasn't expecting too much out of it to be honest. I read Just One Day months before I cracked open my copy of If I Stay and I did not like it. I don't know if it was the writing style or the plot that bugged me. Maybe it was a combination of both. So I wasn't very enthusiastic about reading another Forman book. More than that, I normally avoid books that deal with loss in any form because I don't think I can handle them. I want to be able to cruise through a story and if it's too heavy, I might give up half way. it's happened before and I was worried it'll happen again. However, all my doubts were soon forgotten when I read chapter after chapter of Mia's moving story.

The thing about Gayle Forman's writing is: YOU EITHER LOVE IT OR HATE IT. I realized, I didn't actually hate her writing after all. I simple didn't find Just One Day believable so I had trouble appreciating her careful storytelling. A girl having an out-of-body experience is much more likely to happen than a girl falling in love with a complete stranger in less than a day. OF COURSE.

So there I was, in my school's study hall, quietly sobbing towards the end of the book because Mia's grandpa gave her this perfect speech that just broke my heart. The girl across me noticed and I could tell she got so uncomfortable witnessing my feels explode. Sigh. The life of a booknerd. 

Folks, if a book can make you cry like that in a public place -- it's a keeper. ;-) (does not apply with "significant others")

Needless to say, If I Stay is easily one of my favorite contemporary young adult books. Forman told Mia's story through flashbacks of key moments in her life; moments that seemed so ordinary at first but turned out to be beautiful in the simplest of ways. I love that it didn't turn out to be a teenage love story like I thought it would be. Forman made it clear that it isn't. It's not about Mia staying for Adam. or how eternal their love is. It's simply about Mia. It's about how she was shaped by everything and everyone around her -- her family, her music, her friends, her boyfriend. I think what made the difference is how real everything felt. It was easy for me to connect with the story. In the end, I felt like I grew with Mia. 

In comes the downer: I did not feel the same way about the movie.

On a 11-hour flight to Los Angeles in December, I decided to watch the movie adaptation. It was a long flight and I didn't have anything better to do anyway. I don't know... I didn't appreciate it as much as the book. And I know people usually say the book is better than the movie, and it is most of the time if not all (Beautiful Creatures being the exception). It's the same case here.

To be fair, I think they did a good job at adapting the story. At least they got a lot of the scenes right. What bugged me though is how it didn't gave me the same connection. I didn't feel anything watching it. I even thought I'd get more out of the grandpa scene because, hello, this is a person saying lines that gave me feels -- but NOPE! None! The movie felt too long, too. If I hadn't already read the book I would think the plot was hella weak. It also bothered me that there was too much of Mia and Adam. I feared it would turn out this way when I watched the trailer. A huge part of Mia's life is Adam, sure, but it wasn't the only part. There's so much more to Mia than that! And even if I wasn't against the Adam-centric version of Mia, I didn't feel their chemistry. I did not ship them in any point of the movie. And that's just sad because I happen to like Chloe Moretz and Jamie Blackley (who is actually super cute). 

What went wrong? What's different? Where was the Gayle Forman-ness of it all? I honestly couldn't put a finger on it. Maybe I'm simply more partial to books than movies? Maaaybe. 

Anyone feels the same?

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If they decide to make a movie out of Where She Went, I might consider. Only because it's from Adam's POV and I liked his story better.


  1. Hey! We were thinking the same thing, (and to Beautiful Creatures too, did you finish the books ba?) haha! I actually liked or loved the book than the movie, my sisters sometimes find me weird when they heard me crying upstairs and found out I was holding a book (the recent was If I Stay book), they always say kagad na "Ah, alam na ate!" Haha! But Jamie is super hot though, you know I love the scenes where he is singing especially the last scene where he sang to Mia, the one he composed for her right? Ugh ♥ It's actually in my repeat one list, haha! Wait, is that actually his real voice? :) Anw, I'm reading Just One Day now and yes, I'm in Chapter 12 but I don't think I'll finish it since it's not too convincing for me but thanks for it for describing Paris for me, haha! PS. I wish the same thing about Where She Went movie because I miss Jamie singing in tees sweating, haha! Sorry :D

    Have a good day, Sab! I alwaaaaaaaaaaaays love your posts. ♥♥♥

  2. I still have to watch this movie :(
    However I truly loved the book, so I hope the movie will match that! :)